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Christopher Bjorke, Forum Communications, Published October 24 2012

Poll: Cramer has big lead over Gulleson in House race

GRAND FORKS – Republican U.S. House candidate Kevin Cramer is ahead of his opponent Pam Gulleson by 20 percentage points, according to a recent poll commissioned by Forum Communications.

Among poll respondents, 52 percent said they would vote for Cramer over Gulleson, whom 32 percent of those polled said they would support. The poll showed 15 percent of participants were undecided.

Cramer, a member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, is competing with Gulleson, a former legislator and staffer for retired Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., for the state’s sole seat in the House. U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., is running for Senate against former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, leaving his seat up for grabs.

The wide margin the poll shows in the House race means Gulleson would have to win all undecided voters and peel away many of Cramer’s supporters to win the election.

Respondents identifying as independents favored Cramer over Gulleson, 46 percent to 31 percent, with 24 percent undecided.

Only 6 percent of Republicans and 7 percent of Democrats said they were undecided.

The candidates were close in Cass County, the state’s most populous, where Cramer led Gulleson 43 percent to 41 percent. The two were tied at 42 percent in Grand Forks County.

Cramer had wider leads with 67 percent in Burleigh County, where he lives, and 54 percent in Ward County, which includes Minot.

The poll shows that voters’ opinions in the House race are less formed than in the more heated Heitkamp-Berg matchup for Senate.

Compared to responses for the Senate, larger percentages of respondents had either neutral opinions or uncertain feelings toward Gulleson and Cramer.

Asked to describe their impressions of the candidates, 13 percent said they had a neutral impression of Gulleson and 24 percent said they did not know or were not sure.

For Cramer, 11 percent said they were neutral and 19 percent said they were not sure how they felt.

Overall, 46 percent of poll respondents had a favorable impression of Cramer, and 24 percent had an unfavorable one. Forty percent saw Gulleson favorably, and 22 percent had an unfavorable impression.

Respondents were also cooler in their support for or opposition to the House candidates, with the largest percentages having either “somewhat favorable” or “somewhat unfavorable” impressions rather than “very favorable” or “very unfavorable.”

In the Senate race, only 4 percent were neutral toward Heitkamp and 4 percent toward Berg. Only 6 percent of those polled were not sure of their impression of Berg and 5 percent said the same of Heitkamp.

Also in the Senate race, impressions tended more toward very favorable or very unfavorable.

Cramer had the edge in the poll in all age groups, as well as with both men and women. He was up 60 percent to 29 percent with male poll respondents and 45 percent to 36 percent with women.

ForumComm ND Polling US House

Christopher Bjorke writes for the Grand Forks Herald